Since the 1980s the Criterion Collection has been in the business of remastering classic films from the archives. Gizmodo recently visited the Criterion labs in New York to speak to Lee Kline (technical director) about what exactly goes into the restoration process of cinematic classics.
Kline and his team (of colourists, artists and audio specialists) were working on Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940) which they had scanned into digital 2K for editing with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 10.1 and for sound Avid’s Pro Tools (with Izotope RX3’s spectral repair).
Gizmodo journalist Michael Hession discussed the process:
“Kline talks about how the first step in the process is tracking down the negative, or a print, that is in decent condition. In this case, that meant going to the Library of Congress, which had the original negative of the film. Criterion scanned it at 2K resolution, frame by frame, into digital files.
The digitised reels then make the rounds from department to department. Color is graded; dirt and scratches are retouched; audio is remastered. The team uses a combination of automated software that detects and removes flaws in the image, and manual re-touching of every frame. The entire process can from a few weeks to a few months for a single film, depending on the original condition it was in. Once the fidelity of the final product is assured, Criterion art director Eric Skillman conceptualizes the terrific art that accompanies the disc.
For every film Criterion tackles, the end result is a beautifully packaged ode to movies”.
The video below is a closer look into the restoration process by Michael Hession: